COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements (April 2022 Update)

I-2022-5


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
April 13, 2022 When Superseded 2   11   20  

Overview

COVID-19 vaccines, inclusive of booster shots, are the safest and most effective way in preventing residents and employees from experiencing severe illness, hospitalization, and even death from the corona virus. This is true even with the emergence and spread of the COVID-19 Delta and Omicron variants.

To best protect our workforce and the public, and in accordance with Mayor’s Order 2021-147, the District government requires all employees to have received a complete course of vaccination against COVID-19, and provide proof of vaccination in PeopleSoft. In addition, employees must receive any applicable booster shot against COVID-19 within six weeks of being eligible to receive such a booster and provide appropriate supporting documentation. Employees will receive a time-off award of eight hours for receiving their booster and providing documentation in PeopleSoft.

Unless granted a medical or religious accommodation in writing by the agency, District government employees may no longer test out of these vaccination requirements. Employees who have an accommodation request that is pending shall undergo weekly testing while they await a decision on their accommodation request.

Employees who fail to comply with this policy will be subject to administrative action as outlined in the below Enforcement section.

NOTE: This issuance supersedes issuance I-2021-28, COVID-19 Vaccination Requirements (January 2022), effected Jan 24, 2022. This issuance was updated on May 4, 2022 to clarify the vaccination and booster requirements as it pertains to new hires. On May 13, 2022, we removed references to weekly COVID-19 testing for exempt employees to provide agencies the flexibility to establish reasonable accommodations that meet their unique needs.

Vaccination and Booster Requirements

An employee is considered compliant with the policy if they are fully vaccinated, (i.e., they have received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine) and have received all CDC-recommended booster shots against COVID-19 within six weeks of being eligible to receive each booster. If an employee has received two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine or one dose of the Johnson and Johnson, but is not yet eligible for a booster, the employee shall be considered in compliance with the policy.

The Director of the D.C. Department of Human Resources has established COVID-19 vaccination as a physical qualification requirement for all jobs under the administrative authority of the Mayor. Accordingly, DCHR will update existing position descriptions with this new requirement.

Current Employees

Unless granted an accommodation for a medical or religious exemption, all current District government employees must have received an initial course of vaccination (two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or one dose of Johnson and Johnson’s Janssen vaccine). Unless medically or religiously exempted, employees must also receive any available booster within six weeks of becoming eligible to do so. To check booster eligibility, please refer to the following CDC guidance.

Future Employees

COVID-19 vaccination shall also be a requirement for all new hires appointed to new job vacancies. Applicants do not have to have a booster to be hired but must get a booster (if eligible) after being hired to comply with the booster requirement for current employees. As of August 10, 2021, all vacancy announcements and offer letters must include the following language:

The Government of the District of Columbia values the safety of our employees, our residents, and our visitors. In support of these values, if you are selected for this job you must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19, except when vaccination is not medically advised or violates your sincerely held religious beliefs in violation of EEO laws. If you are invited to join our team, you must submit proof that you are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to your initial HR representative, or you must request an exemption from your representative. New employees must either provide proof of vaccination or be granted a medical or religious exemption before working with the Government of the District of Columbia.

Should an agency fill a position without a vacancy announcement, the candidate for employment must supply proof of vaccination, including receipt of all available booster shots, to the servicing HR representative.

NOTE: Agency HR representatives are responsible for verifying that a new hire is fully vaccinated and informing new hires that they must get a CDC-recommended booster shot once hired if they have not yet received one and are eligible to receive one.

Should an agency fill a position without a vacancy announcement, the candidate for employment must supply proof of vaccination, including receipt of all available booster shots, to the servicing HR representative.

 


Proof of Vaccination and Booster

Candidates and employees subject to the vaccination and booster requirement must show proof of their vaccination and booster status. Acceptable forms of proof include:

  • A scan or image of a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card, or a copy of an official vaccination record from a government body (if vaccinated outside the United States);
  • A scan or image of their vaccination status from the DC Health database or other certification from DC Health or other jurisdiction of full vaccination; or
  • A scan or image of their vaccination and any applicable booster status from their healthcare provider, including commercial pharmacies.
NOTE ABOUT PROVIDING VACCINATION PROOFS: Employees should provide proof of vaccination and receipt of a booster in PeopleSoft by following the instructions in Attachment 1.

Existing Employees

Employees subject to the vaccination and booster requirement must upload their proof of vaccination and booster (if applicable) to PeopleSoft using the “My COVID-19 Vaccination” tile at https://ess.dc.gov.

New Hires

All new hires must present proof they have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 prior to reporting for their first day of duty unless they are exempted from the vaccination requirement (see Exemptions and Mandatory COVID-19 Testing, below). Once onboarded, new employees must also upload to PeopleSoft their proof of full vaccination using the “My COVID-19 Vaccination” tile at https://ess.dc.gov


Exemptions and Mandatory COVID-19 Testing

Employees and employment candidates may be exempted from the COVID-19 vaccination or booster requirement for medical or religious reasons. To qualify, employees must make an exemption request through their agency’s ADA Coordinator or HR Authority, respectively, and become exempt only when issued an exemption in writing. Candidates requesting these exemptions should coordinate with the servicing HR representative for written approval.

Exemption requests will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis consistent with appropriate procedures. Individuals who request a medical exemption must be able to explain the reason an exemption is needed and may need to provide reasonable documentary proof from the employee’s health care provider. Individuals seeking an accommodation due to sincerely held religious beliefs must make the agency aware of the need for an exemption based on a conflict between the employee’s sincerely held religious beliefs and the vaccination requirement. 


Enforcement

Agency human resources teams, ADA Coordinators, and any additional staff assigned by the agency head may have routine access to COVID-19 vaccination information stored in PeopleSoft for their agency employees. These teams must verify compliance with this issuance on a weekly basis. When an employee is not in compliance with this issuance, the teams must refer the matter to the appropriate investigative authority assigned by the agency, such as the employee’s immediate supervisor or an agency’s Employee or Labor Relations team.

To the extent consistent with the procedures negotiated in any applicable labor agreement, employees who violate this policy shall be subject to discipline, as follows:

First offense – Upon the first instance of non-compliance with the policy, an employee shall be officially counseled on the requirements of the policy in accordance with Chapter 16 of the District Personnel Manual. Agencies should use the Verbal Counseling template (Attachment 2) to memorialize such counseling. If an employee does not have an exemption, the employee must receive their first vaccine dose within five days of the effective date of the verbal counseling, and both doses within 30 days. If the employee fails to become vaccinated in accordance with this schedule, agencies shall proceed to Step 2 of the disciplinary process (see below.)

Second offense – If an employee fails to comply with this policy after first having been counseled on the policy (see “First offense,” above), the agency shall issue a proposed five-day suspension notice. If an employee becomes fully vaccinated before a final decision on the suspension is issued by the deciding official, the agency shall dismiss the action. If the employee fails to come into compliance after the suspension period, they shall be progressed to the third offense. 

Third offense – If an employee fails to comply with this policy upon return from their suspension, the agency shall initiate the removal process by issuing a proposed removal notice. If an employee becomes fully vaccinated before a final decision on removal is issued by the deciding official, the agency shall dismiss the action. 

For purposes of this section only, compliance with the policy means being fully vaccinated and having any eligible booster shots.

NOTE: Agencies may deviate from the disciplinary guidelines above to the extent necessary for operational or legal reasons with the approval of the City Administrator. For instance, if termination would place the agency in position where legally required services might be delayed or denied, it would be possible to keep the unvaccinated employee on staff and at work until staff shortages can be addressed, provided the employee still has any required licenses. Similarly, if a termination, or a set of terminations collectively, at any agency or in a division or at a site of an agency would jeopardize operations, alternatives to termination should be explored and would likely be approved.

The Public Employee Relations Board has upheld the Mayor’s authority to require vaccination of District employees. All disciplinary action must be consistent with the procedures set forth in Chapter 16 of the District Personnel Manual, any applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement, and conducted in a consistent and non-discriminatory manner. Distinctions can, however, be made as relates to different jobs, based on factors relating to preventing the spread of COVID-19 and operational and legal requirements.

Time-Off Award

Employees who received their booster shot and submitted proof of their booster in PeopleSoft will receive a time-off award of 8 hours, which will be credited to them in PeopleSoft.


Authorities and Applicability

Chapter 20 of the District Personnel Regulations

COVID-19 vaccinations are a safe and effective measure for minimizing the threat posed by COVID-19. As such, the District government is requiring COVID-19 vaccination as a requirement for all positions under the Mayor’s authority. 6-B DCMR § 2004.1 authorizes personnel authorities to establish physical and mental requirements that are necessary to perform a specific job or class of jobs.

Variance to §§ 2001 and 2004

On February 18, 2022, new regulations were promulgated in Volume 69/7 of the D.C. Register. The variance previously provided is no longer necessary, and is thus inactive.


Confidentiality

Agencies shall maintain the confidentiality and security of employees’ medical and religious information to the extent required by applicable law.


Applicability

The provisions of this issuance apply to all agencies under the administrative control of the Mayor. Independent agencies are strongly encouraged to adopt the above vaccination requirements for their respective workforces.


References

The guidance outlined in this publication are authorized pursuant to:

  1. Corrective and Adverse Actions; Enforced Leave and Grievances, 6-B DCMR § 1600 et seq.
  2. COVID-19 Vaccination Certification Requirement for District Government Employees, Contractors, Interns, and Grantees, Mayor's Order 2021-099
  3. COVID-19 Vaccination Requirement for Adults Regularly in Schools or Child Care Facilities, and for Student-Athletes, Mayor's Order 2021-109
  4. District of Columbia Government Comprehensive Merit Personnel Act of 1978, D.C. Law 2-139; D.C. Official Code § 1-601.01 et seq.
  5. Physical and Mental Qualification Requirements, 6-B DCMR § 2004
  6. Qualification and Evaluation Standards, 6-B DCMR § 206
  7. Reimposition of Indoor Mask Mandates; Expanded Vaccine Requirements, Recommendations and Transparency; Expanded Situational Telework, Mayor’s Order 2021-147
  8. Safety and Health, 6-B DCMR § 2000 et seq.
  9. Standards and Guides for Classification, 6-B DCMR § 1102
  10. U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, What You Should Know About COVID-19, the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act, and other EEO Laws (Updated December 14, 2021)

Attachments

  1. Attachment 1 - COVID Tile Booster Guide
  2. Attachment 2 - Verbal Counseling Template - Vaccination
  3. Attachment 3 - Proposed Suspension Notice Template - Vaccination
  4. Attachment 4 - Final Decision Suspension Template - Vaccination
  5. Attachment 5 - Proposed Separation Template - Vaccination
  6. Attachment 6 - Final Notice Removal Template - Vaccination

Issued by Interim Director E. Lindsey Maxwell II, Esq., D.C. Department of Human Resources on April 13, 2022, 9:48 a.m.